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Ireland announces €40 million investment in sports sector

  • €13.8 million for core activity of 59 National Governing Bodies
  • €9.5 million to support work of 29 Local Sports Partnerships
  • €8,500,000 to support High Performance programmes
  • €2.68 million in International Carding scheme

Sport Ireland today announced an investment of €40 million to National Governing Bodies for Sport (NGBs), High Performance athlete support and to the network of Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) for 2021.

Today’s announcement follows a year in which the sector has been significantly impacted by Covid-19 restrictions in place since March 2020.

The funding of €13.8 million for NGBs is maintained from 2020. This funding, in addition to the recently allocated Covid-19 Grant Scheme, will provide stability and certainty to organisations throughout 2021. In line with previous years, a portion of the Core funding budget (‘Special Projects & Programmes’) will be ring fenced to assist with strategically important NGB related events and projects.

Welcoming today’s announcement, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin acknowledged the importance of sport and physical activity;“The past year has shown us yet again the important role that sport and physical activity plays in our lives and the vital contribution it makes to our physical and mental wellbeing.  I am delighted to announce today’s funding to the sport sector to further assist the work of National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships to encourage people to be more active and to support their ongoing development. In Budget 2021, the Government made a commitment to support the sector and we are engaging closely with the sector to ensure their needs are met and that sport will emerge from the Covid-19 crisis in a strong position.”

High Performance Programme funding will also be maintained for 2021 at €8,500,000. 2021 is anticipated to be an expensive year for high performance programmes as there remains a high level of uncertainty around competition and training camp plans due to Covid-19.  Sport Ireland will provide further support in 2021 to address the immediate and confirmed costs to high performance programmes in respect of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Minister of State for Sport & the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers  TD acknowledged the difficulties faced by the High Performance community in recent months,  “Ireland has big ambitions on the international stage and the funding announced today will assist in furthering these ambitions. While the Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed in 2020, the hard work and commitment from our high performance athletes, their National Governing Bodies and their support teams has continued over the past year and we are all now greatly looking forward to the summer games and beyond. This funding will provide certainty to our organisations after this difficult period and cover costs like coach development, hosting of events and delivering strategic plans. I am also very pleased we are once again providing ring-fenced funding for the Women in Sport programmes through the Local Sports Partnerships.”

The investment in high performance sport is bolstered by funding of €2.68 million through the International Carding Scheme. The International Carding Scheme provides financial support to 130 athletes and 6 Tokyo targeted relays / squads across 16 sports. The primary purpose of this funding is to support Irish athletes in reaching finals and achieving medals at European, World, Olympic and Paralympic level. The level of funding on this scheme has increased from €2.4 million in 2020. The International Carding Scheme has been amended to account for the challenges faced by athletes and NGBs as a result of Covid-19.

Budget 2021 saw a significant increase in funding for sport and physical activity, reflecting the commitment of Government and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to support the sector in to 2021. The hard work and agility of the sports sector to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic has been acknowledged by Sport Ireland and the Government, and today’s funding announcement further strengthens the commitment to the sector.

Funding of €9.5 million has been approved for the network of 29 Local Sports Partnerships, representing an increase of 15% on 2020 funding. This increase in investment provides an opportunity for Sport Ireland to support a locally led safe return to sport and to further build the capacity of LSPs, increasing their reach and impact across Ireland. 

Additionally Sport Ireland has announced its annual investment in the three large field sports – IRFU, GAA & FAI. A total of €2,389,653 has been allocated to the GAA and €2,250,843 to the IRFU. Funding provided by Sport Ireland supports vital coaching, games development and technical development programmes in both the GAA and IRFU. As per the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between the Government and the Football Association of Ireland, €5.8 million in funding will be made available to the FAI for football development programmes, pending approval by the Board of Sport Ireland.

Kieran Mulvey, Chairman Sport Ireland outlined the importance of providing stability to the sector in these uncertain times: “2020 was an extremely challenging year for the sports sector. It was faced head on by the sector and I commend the work of the funded bodies who showed resilience and agility in adapting to the many obstacles they faced throughout the year. The High Performance athletes, coaches and support staff have also showed incredible dedication and commitment to their sports in very difficult circumstances. The funding announced today will support the National Governing Bodies High Performance Programmes, the Sport Ireland Institute and other high performance facilities and direct athlete support and we look forward to cheering on these athletes again soon. On behalf of Sport Ireland, I think Minister Martin, Minister Chambers and their Department colleagues for the ongoing support.”

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland John Treacy highlighted the important role of community sport: “Throughout 2020, the network of 29 LSPs continued to help people get active in their communities by removing barriers to physical activity. They adapted quickly to the new “virtual” landscape and rolled out a broad range of local and national initiatives targeted at all the different cohorts of people. This funding will help LSPs continue this work and ensure that everyone in our society has the opportunity to share in the enjoyment as well as the mental and physical health benefits of sport and physical activity. But now we look forward, toward an Olympic and Paralympic Games, to the reopening of sport and physical activity for the general public and a light at the end of the tunnel. There is cause for optimism as children’s sport and some outdoor activity returns and we look forward to even more opportunities to enjoy sport and physical activity in the months ahead”.


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